Blue-bearded Bee-eater takes a carpenter bee

on 3rd July 2010

Adrian Lim’s a.k.a wmw998 photograph of a Blue-bearded Bee-eater (Nyctyornis athertoni) taking a carpenter bee (Xylocopa sp.) shows an uncommon side of the bird – uncommon for us anyway. The name bee-eater obviously refers to its favourite food, bees. After all, bee-eaters are experts at handling bees, bashing and rubbing them against the branch of their perch to remove the deadly sting.

We have an earlier post of bee-eaters taking bee and wasp, but a carpenter bee? This is a very much larger bee that lives in burrows made in dead wood and untreated timber beams of houses. Such a large bee appears to be less commonly taken by these birds – or is it because they are not as often photographed, like dragonflies?

Yes, bee-eaters are a favourite subject of photographers, who love to show these birds catching them on the wing to expertly manipulate them before swallowing. As a result, there will be many who are convinced that bee-eaters prefer dragonflies to bees. And this may well be so, unless we have quantitative data to prove otherwise.

Adrian Lim
July 2010

This post is a cooperative effort between and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

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